Nona’s cottage outdoor overhaul!

June 10, 2014


For the past two months we have been spending the majority of our days off, weekends, and nights building and revamping the yard of my Mom’s new little house. We partnered with the Father of All home improvement stores  to take this drab and unused space and make it usable and cute as can be. Because the space was for my Mom, I sat down with her and got some inspiration for what she wanted the end result to look like. The house is a tiny little thing, so she wanted it to feel cozy, and warm and like a little cottage. She wanted an herb garden where she could plant some herbs and maybe veggies, and she really wanted a place where me and my siblings and her grandkids could come to eat, chill out, and feel like they were at home.

Here are some of the pics my Mom loved.







The vibe is pretty monochromatic, with pops of color on the landscaping and extremely quaint. Now here is some before shots of the nightmare we had to work with.

Brace yourself for some seriously CRAPPY “before’s”

frontbefore2 copy

Front before3 copy

Frontbefore4 copy

Frontbefore6 copy


sooooo. yep, that’s a whole lotta “Fug” in 5 pictures. As you can see, there was really a lot more of the low down and dirty work that needed to be done. Moving brick, ripping out stuff, re-routing pipes, and building building building. Or as I liked to say “less pretty more gritty”. We turned to the lovely folks at  for all of the hard questions that needed answers and I can’t say enough about how helpful they were.

Anyways, here is where we ended up.

IMG_1788 copy



IMG_2020 copy



IMG_1840 copy

IMG_2001 copy


IMG_1826 copy






Literally I could have posted 200 more pictures, but I’ll spare showing you my sweaty self 10 feet up on a ladder painting trim.

Here was the process and a bit of what we did:

 We began by ripping out the old landscaping (or lack thereof) including the old bamboo fence that was tired and worn. We replaced it with a  and painted it with paint. I had to enlist some muscle during this part because digging 20 post holes and setting them with  was no easy feat.

 We built 2 gates. 1 to the side yard to allow for easy access and the second gate at the back to hide the ugly part of the house, as well as a place to hide tools and a small storage shed. My mom really wanted an so we took the pieces from the busted up concrete and used it to wall off the herb garden. It was a cute little way to recycle the concrete pieces that would have just gone in the trash otherwise. Saving money and recycling FOR THE WIN!

The fence was a whole lotta white without any greenery or pretty plants to break it up. So we kept it simple and made a small planter bed and filled in with , and some , then finished it with some nuggets. OH and did I mention we ordered 8 tons of pea gravel?? Well we did, and I am pretty sure the Duck pulled a hammy moving it wheel barrow load by wheel barrow load to the back yard. Pshhht, whatever I gave birth!!

The house got a quick lick of paint and I am pretty stoked with the color. We used and painted the trim out in . The porch got and its my new FAVE porch color. The windows on the house are sad, so we added to the windows to finish the facade and give it a little more interest and dimension, I love that the black grounded the otherwise really light exterior.

On the side of the house, we wanted to open up the space to make it feel larger and did so by demo-ing the back railing and adding a set of stairs down to the outdoor sitting area. We also added a purple bougainvillea for a pop of color against the light house. We couldn’t find a pot we were jiving on and in our budget, so we settled on making a box with (same as fence) that we planted in a cedar planter that we painted to match the trim and fencing. The lighting before was horrendous  so we swapped them out for this . We shushed up the space with cute outdoor decor by line: , created a sitting area using simple , paired my mom’s existing dining table with some , and added a few and a arrangement.

The result was a much needed improvement that all of our family can now enjoy together!


I have to take a second and give thanks. Let’s first start by pointing out the obvious. Living in SoCal can be about as hot as the surface of the sun in the summer. It was probably the worst time to take on a remodel of an outside project being as that most (read all) days would be spent outside in the 95 degree weather. My Mom is basically the toughest lady I know, and she would start the day around 7:30am and bust her hump till 7:30pm to get this done and I can’t thank her enough. I also had the muscle of my “Papa” (Grandpa.. Yeah he’s 82 and is a flipping champion) and the Duck, as well as my Grandma, Chris, Uncle Kevin, Auntie, and G. It was a family affair and the experience was rad. I also wanted to thank Lowe’s Home Improvement for sponsoring this project and post.

**This post was written in sponsorship with **

Lowe's Logo

  1. Amber the place looks amazing! You are SO talented! I’m just wondering of the bench is also from Lowes? I didn’t find it in the online catalog, maybe you can point me in the right direction! 🙂

  2. wow wow wow. crazy good transformation!! I can usually envision an end result but even that was a stretch for me. I can’t believe how much brighter it is – well done!!!

  3. Hi, I live in NoVa, and I’m in backyard clean-up mode now, so this post was particularly inspiring to me. One of the things I love about your work–and about your blog–is your focus on infrastructure. It’s easy and instantly gratifying to go to World Market or Home Goods and buy a lot of stuff to hide bad infrastructure. (I know b/c I’ve done it!) But it’s infinitely more rewarding to fix the poorly designed, awkward, and non-functional stuff. I love watching you and your team do that.

Leave a Reply to Tania Cancel reply